To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

January 30, 2010

Dry spell, pests damage Malawi crops

A persistent dry spell and an army worm outbreak in Malawi have destroyed about 35,000 hectares of crops, threatening the food security of 123,000 families so far, a senior government official said.

Army worms have attacked nine districts and destroyed 5,000 hectares of crops, while 30,000 hectares of maize have been damaged due to the dry spell, information gathered from the country's eight Agriculture Development Divisions showed.

"The army worm situation is now under control and in some areas people have replanted," Andrew Daudi, principal secretary in the ministry of agriculture said.

Army worms, which can grow to around 5 centimeters (two inches) in length, are moth caterpillars and when present in large numbers can destroy swathes of vegetation and crops.

The Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) said hunger was looming in the poor southern African country. It called on the government to act urgently. "There are signs of widespread hunger because of the dry spell and the damage caused by army worms," FUM president Abel Banda said. "When parliament meets next week, this issue should be top of the agenda because the crop is not good out there."

In recent years, Malawi has enjoyed bumper harvests following the introduction of a fertilizer and seed subsidy programme. The country harvested a hefty 1.3 million tonne maize crop last year, its fifth consecutive surplus of the staple.

An El Nino weather pattern developing in the Pacific Ocean was expected to bring drought to much of southern Africa starting last year, hitting crop and livestock production and damaging wider economies. Experts said long-range forecasts suggested South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and most parts of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and the southern half of Angola would have below average rainfall in the summer rainy season, which runs from October to March.

El Nino, meaning "little boy" in Spanish, is driven by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, and creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.


Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP